Andy Dalton‘s thumb injury will end his season. The Bengals will place their starting quarterback on IR, Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (on Twitter).
Cincinnati also claimed Tom Savage off waivers from the 49ers, per Dehner (on Twitter). Jeff Driskel, who took his first NFL snaps this season, will be in line to start the rest of the way for Cincinnati. This may deal a massive blow to the Bengals’ fleeting playoff hopes.
Torn thumb ligaments will cause Dalton to venture to IR, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). It’s not known if a surgery is scheduled, but that would be logical given the IR announcement. This malady forced Dalton out of the Bengals’ Week 12 loss, but it was initially reported the eighth-year quarterback did not suffer a break. Still, he will head to IR for the first time in his career.
Dalton has missed just three games in his career — all in 2015, which crushed probably the best Bengals team in the past 30 years — and the Bengals did not invest much in a backup quarterback this offseason. A.J. McCarron departed via free agency, but the Bengals retained Driskel and essentially promoted him to QB2.
The Bengals started out 4-1 but have lost five of their past six games. Dalton did not finish losses against the Saints and Browns, the former because of the nature of the game. He was enjoying a better season than he produced in 2017, throwing 21 touchdown passes and holding a 64.6 Total QBR — nearly 20 points better than his 2017 mark.
Dalton had cooled off, though, since Cincy’s hot start, failing to eclipse 160 passing yards in three of his past five starts — the most recent such instance because of his injury. A.J. Green‘s absence had plenty to do with this, but while the Bengals’ top player may be ready to return in Week 13 against the Broncos, Driskel (36 career pass attempts) will be throwing him passes.
Driskel began his college career at Florida before transferring to Louisiana Tech. He landed with the 49ers in 2016 as a UDFA.
Savage spent parts of this season with the 49ers but was jettisoned multiple times, the most recent cut coming Saturday. He was the Texans’ opening day starter in 2017, but Deshaun Watson quickly replaced him. After Watson’s injury, Savage returned. He finished last season with 1,412 passing yards, five touchdown throws and six INTs.
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